Mook Review: Hick

Hick  Written by Andrea Portes

Hick, Andrea Portes, Book Cover, Luli McMullen, Eddie Kreezer, Mookology Review

via BN.com

Hick is the debut novel of Andrea Portes.  Kicking off in Palmyra, Nebraska, this story follows 13-year-old Luli McMullen, a runaway with ambitions to make her big break in Las Vegas.  Luli is raised in a household where she isn’t cared much about, having two alcoholic parents who don’t get along much.  Since Luli is our narrator, she explains how dismal and bored she is of her hometown, anxious to escape.  The first thing I noticed about Luli was her transcendence between youth and adulthood.  At points in her storytelling, it is very obvious that Luli is an inexperienced and vulnerable 13-year-old girl with an imagination that runs wild but, at other times, it is almost astonishing at how grown up she forces herself to become as she enters a very rough and scary new world.

The story really begins to unfold once Luli meets Glenda on the road, an older-sister type who takes Luli under her wing (in addition to giving her cocaine and teaching her how to steal).  Her previous encounter with Eddie seems out of place, but comes full circle once the two women run into him again.  The novel very much felt disjointed and without a traditional flow, which I liked.  It moved as an unplanned journey would.  The most problematic thing for me with this book was sometimes Luli’s voice felt muddled and not authentic.  Portes definitely could have delved deeper into the characters persona, instead of having drastically different components put into one book.

Hick isn’t a story for everyone.  Towards the end of the novel, Luli’s experiences become disturbing and quite heartbreaking, something that those who aren’t into darker stories may not want to read about.  Eddie becomes the catalyst for drama after he basically kidnaps Luli and uses her as his own sadistic possession.  When Glenda finally resurfaces and comes to Luli’s rescue, the moment of elation is soon overshadowed by violence and death.

In the end, I found myself rooting for Luli’s happiness.  She is a hick, there is no changing that, but the fact that Luli is able to recognize what she could have if she gets away from her old life is mature.  She does not have a solid family, so Luli needs to pave her own way.  Hick was a really cool book and I’d recommend it to those who want to read something slightly edgy and dark, but still easy enough to breeze through quickly.

“Hick” – Directed by Derick Martini

Hick, Movie, Movie Poster, Derick Martini, Chloe Moretz, Blake Lively, Eddie Redmayne, Andrea Portes

via IMDB.com

When I saw the preview for “Hick” I was pretty excited.  I thought it looked well-cast and had an edgy appeal to it that made me really want to see it.  Unfortunately, the film was a little bit underwhelming.  It wasn’t that the movie was necessarily bad it just wasn’t very good and I thought it was missing some major components.

They use Luli’s drawings in the movie to shed light on the fact that she is still just a kid, but I felt that the film honed in on the story of her stillborn baby brother rather than her family life or actual feelings.  The movie could have used the voice-over and art component to explain how, and when, Luli learns how to use her sexuality as a weapon.  In the novel, Luli realizes her power as a woman in the very beginning of the story when Ray tries to come on to her.  After this, Luli realizes that she can make a mans “eyes swirl” and get them to do whatever she wants just by being pretty.  This very important piece of Luli’s character is void in the film.

Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Eddie Kreezer was pretty spot on considering I don’t find Redmayne to be the most phenomenal actor.  There was something about him that was attractive and sexy yet perverse and frightening at the same time – exactly how Eddie is described in the book.  Despite the great casting for this role, I did not find the entire situation with Luli to be as dark as I wanted it to be.  In the novel, Eddie repeatedly rapes Luli and ties her up for days before being rescued, but in the movie it seems to be just a one day excursion.  Maybe it is just my affinity for making cruel situations realistic in a movie, but this entire aspect of “Hick” was really lost.  I feel that most people who see the film, without reading the book, won’t feel remotely anything for Luli’s well being.

“Hick” was not the worst movie ever made it just wasn’t as excellent as I wanted it to be.  Andrea Portes provided a really great story that could have worked wonders on the big screen, but poor directorial choices cause “Hick” to flatline.  If you have interest in it, go see the movie, but it is definitely not a must-see.

Mook Rating  ★★

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13 thoughts on “Mook Review: Hick

  1. Portes wrote the screenplay herself and produced the movie. I doubt director choices made it less interesting. In fact, I saw it and having never read the book I thought the directing and acting was top notch but the randomness to the story felt all too random. Sometimes it worked and was surprising and other times it was just silly. Overall it’s a compelling movie but it did not make me want to read the book. Especially after reading your blurb about how Eddie rapes Luli repeatedly in the novel. That would have made an already uncomfortable movie intolerable, and I would have stopped watching. I thought the way they played the rape scene was extremely effective. I got the point without having to see the poor thing be brutalized by an Eddie I surprisingly came to love. The framing was gorgeous. The music was really a strong point for me. In the end I kept coming back to 1 thing. The screenplay. It’s not bad but it’s very weird. At times the randomness felt right, like it was designed that way, other times it felt sloppy and amateurish screenwriting.

    • I appreciate your comment and, although Portes did provide the screen play and worked with the movie, it was her first book therefore also being her first adaptation for the screen of her own story. My problems with this film were directors cuts – the way it was filmed was too bright and non-chalant for such a serious topic. As I said in my review, Hick is not a book for everyone because it is cruel and hard to read at certain points. The movie WAS amateurish considering the subject of the story and I do agree that the script may not have been the best, but if it was filmed in a different want it may not have felt so surface-level.

    • I worked on the film. Trust me. Derick butchered that script. Andrea let him because she is too nice. There’s a reason that director is not well-liked. Period.

  2. Here’s the Hollywood insider scoop on this. Both of the issues that you raise in your review are correct. They were, also, in Portes’ original script.
    (The Ray scene, cash in on that “eye swirl”, more of Luli’s voice-over, how she felt about all the random horrible things that were happening, and the extended time in the cabin. In the script there was an especially beautiful moment there that actually made me cry when I first read it.)

    I know this because my boss was dying to direct HICK. After I read the script and gave it to him.
    It was one of the few scripts I was passionate about in 3 years. I read a lot of scripts. A lot.
    My boss was not the only director in town who was obsessed with directing HICK. The fact is, Andrea Portes wrote a dark, beautiful script, that had everyone in Hollywood vying to get their clients involved in the film. (Actors, directors, cinematographers, CAA, WME, ICM, you name it. Everyone wanted a piece of this project.)

    However, Portes was not the director. She had no say as to how the film turned out, as is the case with most writers. Everyone in town knows the director f*cked up this movie.

    Time will tell but I I know what I read and it was really, really good. Portes isn’t going anywhere, she’s a real talent with a unique voice. She’s what they call “the real deal”. That’s probably why everybody and there dog are lining up to option her next novel. Fyi: Don’t hold your breath for the producers to be calling Martini to direct it.

  3. Martini put his name on the script when the film screened at Toronto. Then, when the film bombed he took his name off of it.

  4. Hey, folks! Andrea Portes here.

    So, um, I just wanted to say that while I truly appreciate the kind words above, I don’t really support insulting the director on my behalf.

    Derick Martini is a good friend and a good director. Everyone involved in making HICK is dear to me and it upsets me to hear harsh words about any of them, even coming from the best of intentions.

    • Andrea, I appreciate you taking the time to respond to this blog and the comments above. Please keep in mind that this is a personal opinion blog and NOBODY was insulting Martini on your behalf. Anything posted here is strictly opinion based, and whether or not commenters decide to post hear-say or gossip isn’t anyones decision but theirs. I would hope you do not take these criticisms to heart. It’s just another blog on the internet :) Thank you.

      • No problem. I thought your review was incredibly insightful and well-written. I was kind of responding more to the comments. I think your blog is incredibly sharp and I look forward to reading more of your book/film reviews. I was a big fan of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, by the way. Traumatizing, but brilliant.

  5. Thanks for the review. I’ll have to go down to the only bookstore in town and see if they have a copy. Won’t count on it. Have to go back to the states in March, or June, or some time. Maybe I can pick a copy up then. But you’ll probably have me turned on to something else by then. Thanks.
    Later…

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